The game was scoreless until the second quarter; Washington scored first, following an Illinois fumble at its own 27-yard line. Backup quarterback, Bill Siler, kept it for three yards, then passed it to Joe Mancuso for 18 yards to the Illini 6. Siler then faked a pass and pitched to halfback Dave Kopay, who scored behind the block of halfback Ron Medved, with 8:26 left in the first half. The Illini got on the scoreboard with Jim Plankenhorn's field goal in the waning seconds of the second quarter and Washington led 7–3at halftime.
In the third quarter, Illinois took control as Jim Warren scored the "go-ahead" touchdown on a two-yard run. Sophomore Grabowski rushed for 125 yards, scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Butkus played both ways in this contest, both at center and linebacker. He recovered a fumble, and had an interception (in addition to leading a defense that held Washington to only 59 yards rushing and 71 yards passing for the game).